Master System 25th Anniversary

photo by Koori A. Moonrise

What a week! Monday was the American NES 25th anniversary, and today it’s the Japanese Sega Master System 25th anniversary! For most Americans and Japaneses, there is not much to say about this game console, since it haven’t achieved such a success as NES did. But for Europe, Oceania and Brazil gamers, Master System was as important as [or even more!] than NES. Why that happen is not clear, though, according to Wikipedia,

Sega’s Master System was technically superior to the NES, capable of displaying twice as many colours on screen and featuring a CPU twice as fast as the one used in the NES; it arguably trumped the Nintendo Entertainment System in every possible technical respect and was released nationwide in the United States the same year, 1986. Yet technical superiority affects the market success of a console very little. Size and quality of a game console’s library might be given lip service in comments and editorials, but games tend to play second fiddle to popularity and brand over the history of the game industry.

So, because or whereat Master System didn’t sell well in the States and Japan, many games weren’t even released there. But in other markets, the console sold even more than NES, therefore there was a huge library of titles to choose from. There even was third party games made in USA that were only released in those more successful markets, one which was Brazil, the lovely country in which I happen to live.

Brazil is a interesting case in Master System history, not only because the console and most of its games were a huge success, but also some famous games were “adapted” [edited, if I may] to feature Brazilian celebrities or themes. The funny thing is that few or none of those Master System Brazilian games were made of scratch; it was always preferred to edit a already successful title instead of just creating something new!  That’s quite a interesting kind of cultural appropriation and hybridization that I’d like to talk more openly in a near future [keep tuned!]. Also, some of those “Brazilian” games will be subject of another today post, so let’s not spoil it.

Another interesting Brazil/Master System fact is that, here, the console  is still in retail. Yes, you read this correctly, a 25 years old console is still in production as you can see in the manufacturer site.

If you want to know a bit more about Master System golden age, you can check out the tribute site Sega 8 bit, but if you prefer some action and play those damn good games by yourself, there is Master System 8. I’d recommend Sonic, Alex Kidd and Golden Axe but, well, there are a lot of other classics over there.